Fire

Report: Jurgen Klinsmann clarifies his stance on MLS

jurgen-klinsmann-clears-stance-on-mls-slide.png

Report: Jurgen Klinsmann clarifies his stance on MLS

One of the biggest ongoing dramas in Major League Soccer is the perception of the relationship between U.S. Men’s National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann and the league.

Klinsmann seems to be pushing national team players to go overseas, which has created friction with league owners. In a report from ESPN FC, Klinsmann has clarified previous statements about MLS.

"I think it's great if people have their opinion out there, that they express that opinion," Klinsmann said in the report. "But I think before they express their opinion they should give me a call and ask what is really going on. Because a lot of people mention their thoughts without even knowing what is really going on.”

[RELATED - New faces all over as Fire open training camp]

Klinsmann explained that he has never been given the chance to speak with MLS owners and explain his plan for the national team.

"Our picture is the global picture," he said. "We need to know what England, Germany, and Spain are doing in Europe, and then Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are doing in South America. But our benchmarks are internationally.

"So for a lot of people they define their world domestically, which is totally cool. They should think maybe a little bit more before saying things from the outside about the national team program."

MLS players took up 10 of the 23 spots at the 2014 World Cup roster, which was picked by Klinsmann, and four more players joined the league soon after the tournament. On that alone, it would appear Klinsmann hasn’t held a grudge against players from the league, but it is natural for the national team and the domestic league to have different goals in mind.

Currently, the U.S. is having its annual January camp, which takes place during the MLS offseason and gives Klinsmann a chance to see different players who are currently in the offseason with their club teams. This year, the camp includes a number of U-23 players who are prepping for the Olympic qualifying playoff against Colombia in March. Chicago Fire players Matt Polster and recent draft pick Brandon Vincent are part of that group. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson joined the senior group as an injury replacement for D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear right here]

"We see a lot more than the result. We see the development of players at a specific point in time in their careers. Our job is to help them to build," Klinsmann said. "We never give up on players because they have a couple of bad months, a couple of bad games. We help them through those phases. No matter where they are in their club environments.

"That's another point with MLS. I always say, 'We are here for the players, to play at the highest level possible.' If that highest level is MLS, we are here to help.”

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

portillos.jpg
@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.